Sunday, 31 March 2013


Yesterday we went to Nanital to cash the last of our traveler’s checks.  We have found them, in our situation, to be very inconvenient.  They are not accepted by merchants and only the larger bank branches will cash them in a limited amount.  Prior to coming to India we established an account with the State Bank of India in New York.  We use bill pay to send funds to that bank.  We have access to those funds from any State Bank of India here in the country, at which time the funds are converted from US Dollars to Rupees.

As we were driving into the town of Nanital I felt there was something very different.  I then realized there was no garbage on the streets.  I later saw a sign posted indicating Nanital is a plastic free zone.  As we drove further into the town I actually saw a garbage truck picking up garbage!  Now if only the rest of India would catch on to the idea.  We decided to go to the Nanital market for our weekly grocery shopping.  I was pleased to see the merchants using paper to wrap items or just placing the Items in the shopping bags that their customers brought with them. 

We happened upon a sweets shop where Jalebi was being freshly made.  Ram could not resist the temptation.  The proprietor gave us a sample of Glulabjamun which is very sweet and syrupy. We could not resist getting some. The Glulabjamen was packed in a plastic bag.

Our drive to Nanital was beautiful and the road was in very good condition.  It is my desire to find a cottage to rent somewhere between Bhowali and Nanital.  Rentals are not well advertised here and are found by word of mouth.  Maybe we will get lucky.

Nanital market

Vegetables are sold by the kilogram

Jalebi being made

Thursday, 28 March 2013


Yesterday was the last day of the Hindu calendar year and the celebration of the first day of Holi, the festival of colors. Families gather and place small amounts of colored powder on each other's face wishing each other Happy Holi. Families also visit neighbors and do the same. It is the celebration of the triumph of good over evil, and a celebration of Spring and the first day of the Hindu New Year. It's also the celebration of The Legend of Holika and Prahlad.

The second day of Holi occurs on the first day of the Hindu calendar, is celebrated with great enthusiasm. People take great delight is placing large amounts of colored powder on each other. Some, especially children and young adults throw colored water at each other using large spray guns  or even buckets. Neighbors and friends visit each other placing more and more color on each other as they progress from neighbor to neighbor. Singing, dancing, traditional foods and sweats are shared.
Holi is celebrated this way in the Haldwani region.

Holi celebrations are celebrated differently and on different days in various Indian regions. What remains the same is that it is a joyous occasion that brings people together.  In ancient times it was a time when young women chose their husbands.  Click here to learn more about it.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


Loving my new life. We got up and went to our balcony to soak up the warm sun. Kamla brought us tea. While we enjoyed watching wild monkeys swing in the trees and Kamla made breakfast. After lunch we took a nice nap while Kamla did some housework. After doing some shopping for us she again served tea along with a homemade snack of vegetable pakora (batter fried vegetables). Kamla made supper for us. However we were to stuffed to eat. We may or may not get around to it tonight. We never did get out of our PJs. My husband has given me a life I never dreamed of. What could be more perfect?

Thursday, 14 March 2013


Interesting , we just had a visit from the Department of Indian Security. We were asked to show our passports, OCI(Overseas Citizen of India) and PIO(Person of Indian Origin) visas. He wanted to know where we were from and why I did not speak Hindi. I told him my 62 year old brain did not pick up a new language as well as a child. He wanted to know why I did not learn in America. I explained that we are Americans and in America we speak English, I wanted to add unless you are Mexican. He gave our documents a good going over and politely left. Too bad America's security is so lax and her borders are so porous and unsecured.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


I bought my cookware here at the Haldwani Market. The shops are really small. Most have a bench where the customer is expected to sit. The customer describes to the shop keeper what the are looking for. The shop keeper or his helper then go and get the items the customer is seeking.  

This market is quite large and offers everything from bedding, to fresh fruits and vegetables.  This vegetable cart rolled by while we were purchasing our cookware.  The shopkeeper as well as some customers bought some vegetables.

Sunday, 10 March 2013



My husband has given me the life I have never dreamed of.  I was disappointed when the driver/ household helper did not pan out.  Things do happen for a reason.  Yesterday Ram, with my blessing hired a servant. Her salary, 3000 Rupees or $60.00 USD/month. I hear that is good money for this area.    Kamla is a mountain girl that was born in a village a half hour walk from our cottage.  She works 9 AM to 5 PM seven days a week.  We offered her a day off.  She said she will tell us if she needs one.  She does everything from the cooking to cleaning as well the wash.  She is sweet always laughing and smiling.  She has two school age children, a three year old and husband who works a night security job.  She wants to work to provide a better life for her children.  At home she cooks on an open wood fire but knows her way around my kitchen and how to use my gas stove just fine.

We were lucky enough to find her through another domestic woman working here in our community.
Interestingly enough, the night of Kamla's first day with us, this woman and her husband knocked on our door stating do not trust Kamla or her children.  It seemed strange since it was she who recommended Kamla in the first place.  The next morning this woman was again at our door stating she wanted to work for us.  Ram told her we were very pleased with Kamla and her work and we had no interest in making a change.  Kamla arrived to work a bit early wondering if she still had a job with us.  Her "friend" had called her that morning telling her that we no longer wanted her and that we would send her days’ pay.  We told Kamla we were pleased with her work and we would tell her if she made a mistake so she could correct it.  We will never let her go without telling her or giving her a reason.  At that point tears streamed down her face.

Kamla and I have had many interesting conversations using sign language, English and some form of Mountain Hindi.  I'm not sure if we were always on the same topic but our conversations have been lively and full of laughter.  At the same time we do not cross the line between employee and employer.

Today is Maha Shivratri, a holy day for Hindus. Since it is a holy day we decided to let Kamla go early if she wanted.  Naturally she took us up on the offer.  Kamla indicated she was going to the temple with her family after work.  Ram said she was going to ask for a long employment with us.  I am glad she is happy.

Saturday, 9 March 2013


Two weeks ago we were invited for worship at the home of our Son, Jeevan and Bahurani Sudha.  It took place in her Pooja (worship room) and was lead by a Purohit, a person knowledgeable in Hindu traditions, teachings, rituals and ceremonies.  His role was similar to a Christian minister or priest though there is no such thing in the Hindu religion.  Prayers were said and food offerings of sweets and fruit as well as a sweet milk like drink were made to the Gods. The same was then offered to us, reminding me of the Christian Communion ritual. During Pooja the Purohit indicated we should ask for what we want.  I replied that I have everything that I want. For his services a monetary donation as well as vegetables and rice were given.  He also teaches Sanskrit literature full time at a local college.  I found him interesting to talk to.  He expressed interest in leading Pooja for us in our cottage once we are settled.  Sadly we do not have a Pooja room after all, but I am sure we can make do.

Bahurani Sudah's Pooja room

Friday, 8 March 2013


Unexpectedly our landlord had a gas canister delivered and set up.  The cost  $28.50 USD.  I do not know how long the tank will last.   Now we are cooking!  I like cooking with gas much better than my electric convection cook top.  It is nice to have a back up.  We suspect this was obtained on the black market.

Thursday, 7 March 2013



Our beloved Nanhki died today.  It happened quickly, gastroenteritis.  We are not sure how she contracted it.  Twenty four hours before she died her appetite was off.  She developed vomiting and diarrhea around 10 PM.  We took her to the veterinarian the next day.  We were told her condition was grave due to hypothermia.  I immediately suspected sepsis.  He gave her antibiotics, an anti-emetic and a 250cc drip of RL.  The plan was to repeat the same every 12 hours.  We were told we must bring her back to his clinic for each dose and remain with her during the administration.   There is no such thing as inpatient for pets.  We are an hour from the vet and the drip was to be administered over 3 hours.  He agreed to allow me to do it and sent us home with all medications and necessary supplies.  Sadly she died about an hour after we arrived home.  Not knowing where to bury her we called our regular taxi driver for advice.  He came immediately and told us he would bury her with his pets.  Two of his dogs have been killed by leopards.  He said he will plant a tree to remember her.  He also had grown attached to her.

It seems the Toy Fox Terrier is a rare breed here in India.  We were always asked what her breed was.  On our walks she always drew a crowd.   Ram's dentist insisted she come into his clinic to visit. Anywhere we went, if she was not with us we were asked to bring her with us next time. The dentist visited her during the vet. visit to ensure everything was being done for her.  She will be missed.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


Yesterday we broke down today and bought an electric cook top.  I am not sure if we will be able to get gas.  This morning I started a fire in my cooking pan.  My cook top is an electric convection  cook top.  I had no idea it would heat so quickly and gee would burn so easily.  Surprise!  The pan barely survived.  No damage to the kitchen.

Sunday, 3 March 2013


It turns out it is not going to be easy for us to get gas for our cook top.  Cooking gas is subsidized by the Indian government and is only available for residents.  I assume we have not been here long enough.  We were told our cottage should have been rented to us with a gas cylinder already in place.  We will be talking to our landlord.  Considering Indian red tape we may be without for a while.  Another option is an electric cook top, but electricity comes and goes.

Friday, 1 March 2013


Balcony off master bedroom
Upstairs master with western toilet


Today we officially rented a cottage in Bhowali.  The rent is $300.00 USD/month.  We paid up front for water for the year.  The nice thing is that the water comes from 300 feet down and supposedly requires no filtration.  Ram is skeptical, fearing the famous Delhi Belly.  I am the Ginny pig.  I drank water from our landlords tap.  

I was pleasantly surprised when we were asked for our passports and Indian ID (our OCI and PIO).  I am glad to see India securing her borders.  Too bad America does not care to do the same.  Now that we have an official rental receipt we can obtain local SIM cards for our cell phones and apply for some sort of Internet connection either Wi-Fi or DSL via a land line phone.  Again I am happy that India is so security conscious.  Speaking of that, we have found that is not advantageous to use traveler’s checks.  They are not cashed locally.  Not all cities have a bank where one can get them cashed.  The larger banks will not cash a large amount for fear you may be funding a terrorist organization.

Stairs down to front door
Front door
Living room


Gas cook top

Downstairs bedroom
Downstairs bathroom